Meditations (Penguin Classics)

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9780140441406: Meditations (Penguin Classics)
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It was during his campaigns against the barbarians that the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, wrote his famous "Meditations". They record the passing thoughts, the maxims and the musings on life and death of a sensitive and humble mind which had been trained in that stoic philosophy which contributed so much to Christianity. In this translation from the scholarly Greek in which Marcus kept his private journal, Staniforth gives us a simple and straightforward version of a work which has often been compared to "the imitation of Christ".

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One measure, perhaps, of a book's worth, is its intergenerational pliancy: do new readers acquire it and interpret it afresh down through the ages? The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, translated and introduced by Gregory Hays, by that standard, is very worthwhile, indeed. Hays suggests that its most recent incarnation--as a self-help book--is not only valid, but may be close to the author's intent. The book, which Hays calls, fondly, a "haphazard set of notes," is indicative of the role of philosophy among the ancients in that it is "expected to provide a 'design for living.'" And it does, both aphoristically ("Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what's left and live it properly.") and rhetorically ("What is it in ourselves that we should prize?"). Whether these, and other entries ("Enough of this wretched, whining monkey life.") sound life-changing or like entries in a teenager's diary is up to the individual reader, as it should be. Hays's introduction, which sketches the life of Marcus Aurelius (emperor of Rome A.D. 161-180) as well as the basic tenets of stoicism, is accessible and jaunty. --H. O'Billovich

From the Back Cover:

The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus embodied in his person that deeply cherished, ideal figure of antiquity, the philosopher-king. His Meditations, written in moments snatched from military campaigns and the rigors of politics, reveal a mind of exceptional clarity and originality, and a spirit attuned to both the particulars of human destiny and the vast patterns which underlie it.

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